Yesterday Pope Francis began a two-day visit to Marseilles with a more political than religious background, since this occurs in the midst of migration crisisafter the arrival last week of thousands of illegal immigrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa and when Europe debates what to do with them. Having just landed, the Supreme Pontiff, who has always been very sensitive to this drama, sent a clear message: “Immigrants who are at risk of drowning must be helped,” he said in the presence of representatives of other religions and after a brief prayer. in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde for the migrants who died at sea.
In the last week, some 10,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in Lampedusa from North Africa and so far this year more than 120,000 people have reached Italyentrance door to Europa. The first movement of Pope Francisco He went precisely to this island and regretted that it had become “a cemetery.” What has happened these days “is cruelty and a terrible lack of humanity,” he had warned AFP journalists on the papal plane.
While Italy, overwhelmed, asks Europeans for solidarity when it comes to welcoming illegal immigrants, Germany has suspended reception due to “migratory pressure” and France has also been clear about this: It will not accept them on its territory. Francis was forceful and asked for “humanity” from Europeans: “We must solve the problems that the sea presents to us, for the European Union and for everyone it is important to be able to survive. We have to face this problem in a united way. Together we compose a mosaic of bridges,” he said.
The Supreme Pontiff was received at the airport by the prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, and presided over a prayer in the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, where he urged to be “men and women with compassion.” Already outside the temple, he said: “In the face of such a great drama there are no words, but there must be deeds and actions, we need humanity.”
He continued: “We cannot resign ourselves to seeing human beings treated as bargaining chips, imprisoned and tortured in atrocious ways. We can no longer witness the tragedies of shipwrecks caused by atrocious trafficking and the fanaticism of indifference,” he said. So far this year, some 1,300 people have died or disappeared at sea trying to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.